Thursday, March 31, 2011

'American Sestina' by Brian Clements


Why not just say what the street says? Or the jungle? Why not be not afraid instead of weaving so many figures into the fabric until you know nothing but figures? Why not just make a few simple shapes? Or add text about how good it is to be lost, how flexible we have to be to get through each day, how the fish for dinner would really like to be in the Gulf of Mexico?
By opening a window, against whom do we trespass? By pointing out the ribbed texture of dung beetles? By remembering the grapefruits we ate south of the border? By being fluid enough to have multiple biographies? The books already talk among themselves.
As though anyone were really interested in textiles... Everyone just wants to think they’re getting away with a small crime. We pretend to hate plastic and are sure to get plenty of fiber, but we cook our lunch in microwaves and form small societies for praising the Rio Grande as the symbol of the authentic.
We like to point to the America south of our America. So pretending you’re someone else is a rite of passage where you’re forced to erect false gods in the name of your self, then fall into them never to be seen again, your woof and warp absorbed in a quilt of soft tissue.
Then you’re gathered at the edges with strong elastic and sent on your way. They laugh at this in Latin America. But here, we post our histories on the world wide web and take pains to document every momentary lapse into desire for the center, every error of hurt, until eventually we build a keep of myth.
We gawk at the one in the corner who has assembled a pile of lint and is giving it to passersby--his private ritual against evildoing, his own little version of Metl-xictli, which he dreams up each night and records in a little manuscript. 
When he has enough material, he’ll put together a Society Even Smaller Than Himself, whose only mistake will be collecting it all in one book which describes the Society so completely that everything else that can be said about it is inscribed on a small piece of cloth, which at this moment is drifting to the bottom of a puddle in the jungle of Central America.

(from his book Jargon, Quale Press, 2010)

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